Antidepressants and Hair Loss

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Hair loss is an extremely distressing problem, and it's generally not well-received by men or women. Often, the first sign of hair loss is a handful of hair in the sink or the shower drain, which typically causes panic. While men more often experience hair thinning and loss as they age because of genetics, which is called male-pattern hair loss, both men and women can lose hair for a variety of reasons, including autoimmune conditions, childbirth, extremely stressful events, thyroid disease, iron deficiency anemia, chemotherapy, and certain medications.

If you started a new antidepressant within the past few months, it may be one reason you're seeing more hair on your brush. Unfortunately, while antidepressants exist to improve your mental health, some of the side effects can be a blow to your self-esteem.

While such side effects can be frustrating at times, the hair loss caused by antidepressants is usually temporary. 

Why Do Antidepressants Cause Hair Loss?

The type of hair loss generally caused by antidepressants is called telogen effluvium. Telogen effluvium occurs when your body is stressed in some way—perhaps by childbirth, illness, surgery, mental stress, poor nutrition, or medication—which causes hair follicles to enter into the resting stage (telogen phase) prematurely. Because more hair follicles are now in this resting stage, more hair is shed, leading to diffuse hair loss all over the scalp.

Is It Permanent?

The good news is that this type of hair loss is not permanent. Generally speaking, people will recover completely without any outside assistance in about six months once the medication is discontinued.

Is My Antidepressant Causing My Hair Loss?

While hair loss caused by antidepressant use is rare, it is a possible side effect for just about all antidepressants. One study suggested that bupropion had the highest relative risk compared to the selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors.

Unfortunately, because there are so many potential causes of hair loss, sometimes the only way to know for certain if your antidepressant is causing your hair loss is to stop taking it and see if your hair regrows.

Always talk to your doctor before stopping your medication.

What You Can Do to Help Your Hair Grow Back

Other than stopping your medication and being patient while the problem corrects itself, there really isn't any specific treatment recommended for hair loss caused by antidepressants. However, there is some evidence, both anecdotal and in research, that supplements such as Viviscal and Nutrafol can encourage hair growth. In a 3 month, placebo-controlled study published in 2015, Viviscal, an extra-strength marine protein supplement, resulted in a significant increase in terminal hairs as well as significantly less hair shedding in women with thinning hair.

Rest assured that your hair will grow back, even if it's not as fast as you'd like. While you wait, a different hairstyle or a hairpiece may help you feel better about your appearance.

What If I Need to Stay on My Medication?

If you need to remain on your medication there are a couple of options that may help.

  • One is to reduce your dose, which may be enough to allow your hair to regrow.
  • Another option is to switch to a different brand or the generic version of your medication, as it may be an inactive ingredient, rather than the drug itself, that is causing your hair loss.

If neither of these options helps, and you feel that you really can't live with your hair loss, you will need to discuss with your doctor the pros and cons of switching to a different antidepressant.

3 Sources
Verywell Mind uses only high-quality sources, including peer-reviewed studies, to support the facts within our articles. Read our editorial process to learn more about how we fact-check and keep our content accurate, reliable, and trustworthy.
  1. Malkud S. Telogen Effluvium: A Review. J Clin Diagn Res. 2015;9(9):WE01-3. doi:10.7860/JCDR/2015/15219.6492

  2. Etminan M, Sodhi M, Procyshyn RM, Guo M, Carleton BC. Risk of hair loss with different antidepressants: a comparative retrospective cohort study. Int Clin Psychopharmacol. 2018;33(1):44-48. doi:10.1097/YIC.0000000000000191

  3. Ablon G. A 3-month, randomized, double-blind, placebo-controlled study evaluating the ability of an extra-strength marine protein supplement to promote hair growth and decrease shedding in women with self-perceived thinning hair. Dermatol Res Pract. 2015;2015:841570. doi:10.1155/2015/841570

Additional Reading
  • Yüksel Kıvrak, İbrahim Yağcı, Mehmet Fatih Üstündağ, and Halil Özcan. Diffuse Hair Loss Induced by Sertraline Use. Case Reports in Psychiatry. September 2015.

By Nancy Schimelpfening
Nancy Schimelpfening, MS is the administrator for the non-profit depression support group Depression Sanctuary. Nancy has a lifetime of experience with depression, experiencing firsthand how devastating this illness can be.